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Humax hard disk freeview box

Old 16th Dec 2020, 19:34
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Humax hard disk freeview box

We have a couple of these machines which are two or three years old. One of them has a 1TB hard drive, the other a .5TB hard drive, both are rotating platter thingies. The units are the same model as far as can be seen.

Both are fairly full of recorded stuff.

The 1TB unit has thrown a wobbler last evening when the picture and sound suddenly stopped and then became intermittent at a slow rate, pausing for several tens of seconds between 1 or 2 seconds of play. There was the sound of the hard disk access suggesting that a recording that had been set was still happening. We left it to recover and went to bed. Today the machine goes through the waking up procedure but never completes.............. There are some of the expected screen messages showing the waking up process and it gets to the second part of what it should do from memory and then... nothing.

Some questions:

If I return it to Humax for repair will they lose all of the recorded material?

If I remove the drive from the faulty machine might I be able to read the files off it with anything I have to hand? I have a disk caddy to USB unit which can power up a disk drive and allow access to the files IF the format is common to either a Win8 PC or my Linux Mint machines.

Is there any point in swapping the drive from the bad unit to the good unit to see what happens? As the drives are different sizes I wonder if anything else in the machines is different to allow the OS to load, bios settings not on the disk could cause both machines to end up broken .....

Anyone?

Rans6....................................................... ..............
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 22:06
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Most DVR boxes use a proprietary format for recording - unlikely to work for slotting into a PC or Mac, Linux may be a possibility. You may though have a better chance of swapping into the other box, but beware of it 'assuming' a new drive and wanting to format it...

It's a while since I've looked, but it may be worth asking/ browsing on the DVR sites - e.g. digital spy or avforums?
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 23:26
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Are you sure you want to spend on an obsolete device?

Humax I see has stopped making the Freeview offerings.
I've been given two Humax boxes. One labelled FOXSAT 6004454 I have no idea what age it is. I suppose it must be possible to drive it skilfully but compared to a little Bush unit, the menus are painfully obscure.

Sorry to hijack your thread, but it's kind of relevant.

Both have sound that's so bad that I can not use them and chat on the internet seems to say this is a common problem with HUMAX.

What is more, this insane trick of putting daft sounds over programs seems much much worse on this system. We've discussed the basic problem on PPRuNe, and it seemed to have got a little better in the last year or so. A few weeks ago it came back with a vengeance. Unusable on FreeSat for me.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 09:51
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It is not a matter of spending on an obsolete device, we have two of these units and rather a lot of recorded material which we can't record again until the repeats come around. Additionally when I bought them they were the only offering on the shelves with SCART connection, our two TVs have only SCART or terrestrial aerial inputs. The sound outputs, which I feed to a good set of amplifiers and speakers, are good enough quality for most programme material.

For what the units cost me at the time they were a good find.

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Old 17th Dec 2020, 10:05
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I did a quick Google for 'Humax Hard Drive Replacement' and found some interesting sites and videos. One suggested that you can replace the hard drive on these boxes (with a new one, which will be reformatted), then fit the old one in a USB enclosure and connect it to the Humax box to transfer the recordings. I don't know if that would apply to your models, but it might be worth investigating.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 10:34
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Originally Posted by rans6andrew View Post
It is not a matter of spending on an obsolete device, we have two of these units and rather a lot of recorded material which we can't record again until the repeats come around. Additionally when I bought them they were the only offering on the shelves with SCART connection, our two TVs have only SCART or terrestrial aerial inputs. The sound outputs, which I feed to a good set of amplifiers and speakers, are good enough quality for most programme material.

For what the units cost me at the time they were a good find.
You can get HDMI-to-SCART adaptors that work quite well: we used one with a cable TV system and a DVD player to keep an older B&O TV going (TV didn't have a digital tuner!)
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 11:47
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Originally Posted by rans6andrew View Post
If I remove the drive from the faulty machine might I be able to read the files off it with anything I have to hand? I have a disk caddy to USB unit which can power up a disk drive and allow access to the files IF the format is common to either a Win8 PC or my Linux Mint machines. Rans6....................................................... ..............
The hard drive on many (if not all) Humax boxes is formatted EXT3, so I suggest trying to access the files with your Linux machine might be worth a try.

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Old 17th Dec 2020, 11:51
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I bought a cheap Humax 1100s freesat box a couple of years ago. It has just one tuner and comes without a hard drive, so you have to plug your own into the usb port.
Obviously with just one tuner can either watch or record, but not both at the same time.

When I first wanted to record a prog I plugged in a small (120GB) disc and that soon became full. I understand that the HDD is locked to the humax machine and I didn't want to risk trying to have two drives registered in case it will only recognise one HDD so I found a larger (500GB) drive and used Macrium reflect to clone the small drive onto the large one, then expanded the partition using diskpart to the full drive capacity and that's working fine now.

You could try removing the current HDD and clone it to a blank drive and see if that works in your Humax machine. I guess it depends on whether the fault is the Humax or the HDD. How about putting another HDD in the machine and then asking Humax to repair it, thus keeping your recordings safe?

Last edited by 11277m; 17th Dec 2020 at 12:03.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 12:00
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Originally Posted by papabravowhiskey View Post
... to keep an older B&O TV going (TV didn't have a digital tuner!)
Yes, I have a couple of Toshiba 32Z44B TV's. They are 32 inch flat screen CRT machines that need two people to lift! They are extremely well built and were, I believe, something like 550 about 20 years ago. I paid 30 and 11 for them on ebay ten years ago and I'm reluctant to get rid of them.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 23:39
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When finally disposing of them keep the degaussing coils. Opened carefully enough there's a lifetime's supply of the most beautiful copper wire.

I understand the need to save recorded material. I had a Phillips tape system with Hot Gossip on it. All I needed was the obsolete recorder to play it on.

My hearing is so badly damaged now I suppose I can't accept anything but perfect audio, which of course, rarely occurs. However, before Covid, I did visit the friend that gave me one of them and his audio was 'acceptable'.

He also gave me a small Sony amp with ~ 12" high speakers. Just with a phono hookup all I do is amplify the degraded sound. For a fair time I've just given up, but with the restrictions I need to get something workable. A sound box is out of the question but I guess Bluetooth earpieces might work.

I suppose there are very few TV's these days with good speakers. It's a really bad step back for me, I used to feed the VHS into my hi-fi and get superb sound. I recorded the 'Making Of', Cecilia Bartoli's Vivaldi album and the VHS was astonishingly better than the CD.

I gess the thing now is to find the preferred new Satellite box and find out what the sound is like.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 00:19
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When I had a problem with my first Human Freeview, I got help here: My Humax forum
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 08:54
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I've successfully repaired a couple of Humax recorders by replacing the faulty hard drive, you simply swap the drive and the operating system will format it and sort itself out on power up. You might have to pre format the drive in EXT3 on certain models though. As for recovering the data, it might be worth cloning the old drive to see if the Humax box will recognise it on boot up but failing that you'll need to extract the video files from the old drive to play on a PC using the appropriate software.
Don't send the box to Humax as they won't save the data and the cost will be prohibitive compared with the cost of a new drive or even a new box.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 10:15
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Originally Posted by rans6andrew View Post
Is there any point in swapping the drive from the bad unit to the good unit to see what happens? As the drives are different sizes I wonder if anything else in the machines is different to allow the OS to load, bios settings not on the disk could cause both machines to end up broken ......
We have had several of these over the years. Upgrades have been down to wanting higher resolution, eg freeviewHD, but most often due to failure. You can disconnect the hard drive power and data leads and see if it boots up, which might diagnose a HD failure, and at least you then have the tuner if you need it. If the HD has failed you can easily put in a new one, but you may not be able to access the old recordings on a PC. Older boxes had proprietary recording formats although there was a lot of info online about how to rip them to a useable format on a PC.

New boxes are not expensive and have many new features - we can now record 4 channels and watch a fifth! Although the EPG and other controls have taken a massive backward step.

Another Humax forum is https://hummy.tv/forum/


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Old 18th Dec 2020, 10:52
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Originally Posted by Loose rivets View Post
When finally disposing of them keep the degaussing coils. Opened carefully enough there's a lifetime's supply of the most beautiful copper wire. I suppose there are very few TV's these days with good speakers.
Yes,LR, perhaps I should remove some of the components for safe storage, just in case. There's a lot of quality stuff in there. Even the speakers are a half-decent size, especially compared to modern stuff which is so often simply unacceptable. For the TV in the kitchen I found a pair of computer speakers, with internal amp, solved the problem economically. In another room, having paid 250 for a freesat HD 32 inch TV I next had to spend 99 for a soundbar, which likes to think it's in a cinema and unreasonably boosts the bass. I'm thinking of plugging up the bass port with blutack.

I've been amazed to compare the prices of TV's over the years, since the early 1970's when a middle-of-the-road colour TV cost about 250, when 250 was a lot of money. Since then they have remained pretty much the same price, even now when 250 isn't much money at all.
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 00:00
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It wasn't too long before my mother and her aunt got a TV for our Walton on the Naze home. It needed a huge pole in the garden for the H aerial. After a year the tube went soft and my poor folk had to watch the coronation under a blanket. Line hold and frame hold dropped out every few minutes.

Finally 20 was found for a tube and the set was still around for Quatermass, where at one exciting moment I had to solder in a new EHT rectifier. I never bothered to bolt the chassis in, and the back had long gone, so it was done in just over the time it took for the iron to heat.
For the exciting new channel I ran an EHT-disabled chassis under the set and fed I.F. via coax into the 12" Ekco. It worked a treat, though changing channels was a chore.

The last set in the family home was a 21" Sony which we'd had for years. The sound on that was so good that I seldom fed it into the hi-fi. Bloke carried it out of our almost empty house for 20. It was still warm.

I never dreamed there'd be a time when I couldn't fettle my own sets. Even my contemporary at telly-school, shut down his workshop part of his business. His techie was spending most of his time waiting for someone's set to go wrong.
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 09:06
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Something to try - if your Humax box is anything like mine, it probably has timeshifting enabled. This is basically live backgound recording of the current channel, so that you can pause and rewind live TV. If the HDD has a fault, it is likely to cause problems with timeshift, which could manifest in freezing etc. If enabled, try disabling timeshift to see if this improves the functionality of the box. This may allow you check the integrity of your recordings and plan your next move.

If the HDD is in a sorry state, then it is likely that the cost of professional data recovery would far outweigh your desire to save recorded material. If you're lucky you might be able to hook it up to a PC capable of reading Linux partitions, but this is likely to be slow and painful and recovered files may well be corrupt.

Personally I would just stick a replacement HDD in the Humax box and format/initialise via the Humax settings menu, and write the old recordings off.

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Old 19th Dec 2020, 22:58
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I dug out my Disk Caddy (allows any sort of disc drive hardware to connect to a USB) and plugged the drive from the dodgy Humax into it. Initially there was no recognition of the drive being there and the drive felt to be vibrating a lot (by finger touch) but not at the 5000 odd rpm it should have been running at. After a while (about half an hour), as it warmed up, it was suddenly seen by my Linux Mint computer and three partitions or directories appeared. Two of only 4GB and 41GB which appear to be empty and one of 930GB which seems to be pretty full although I can't actually access any of the three directories in it. These are Music, Photos and Videos which it shows as "loading" but never gets there. The fact that I can read these tells me that the disc formatting is compatible with my Linux machine, which is a relief.

I have seen this before on a drive from a laptop computer. I accessed that one by warming the drive up to 50 or 60 degrees in the oven and then putting it into the caddy and repeatedly attempting to access it until, as it cooled down, it became fully readable for just long enough to copy all of the wanted data from it. Obviously a case of the oil in the bearings getting a bit claggy but softening up when warmed.

Right now I don't have a spare drive big enough to drop the 930GB of good stuff onto, the largest drive in my spares box is only 500GB. I think it is time to stop and to preserve what I have until I can source a 1TB drive and a couple of removable, internal drive bays for my big desktop machine on the basis that properly wired in drives might have faster data rates than an external USB caddy setup does. Then try the warm oven trick.

In the meantime I will pop a spare Sata drive into the Humax and see what it makes of it.

Thanks for the input from you folk that responded, you pointed me in generally the right direction enough to be worth an evening playing.

Rans6...................................................
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 00:14
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properly wired in drives might have faster data rates than an external USB caddy setup does.
Yes, unless it's a USB 3 caddy (with a USB port in the PC), in which case it's probably more than fast enough to handle what a 5400 RPM HDD can muster.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 10:35
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When you have a new 1TB drive (pcpartpicker.com will show some respectable prices, around 35 ish and upwards) Macrium Reflect should manage to recognise and clone the old drive on to the new. It did for me.

As has been mentioned, if you can mount one or both 1TB drives inside your computer that should speed things up a bit.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 11:47
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Mmmm, interesting. I put a new drive into the broken Humax and plugged all of the wires back in. When I switched it on it went through the normal boot up sequence, messages to the TV etc but never got to the point of showing live TV. Additionally the menu button didn't open the menus so tuning was not an option. I removed the drive and put it into the caddy and ........ nothing. It is not seen by the Linux OS at all, not even the confirmation beep you get when a blank USB stick is inserted.

It would seem that I have only two options:

1) Try to clone the drive from the other machine. Can anyone recommend a disc clone utility for Linux Mint?
2) Try to retrieve the files from the duff hard disc and pop them onto a USB stick or transfer them to the cloned drive as required.

Is there anything I might try?

Thanks,

Rans6............................
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